Thursday, April 14, 2005

email backlog

One reader comments on a pair of old posts (here and here) about Carlebach-style davening:
Perfect! That says it just right. It's about the lack of respect, about superficiality. As I wrote, I am no tsadik in this regards, but I have grown to become much more aware of it and decided its a very bad example for the kids. Anyone wants to complain about 'em, look to the parents!

It's what bothers me. If the folks were serious about davening and THEN got up and danced or sang the fast, (obnoxious IMHO) tunes, that's one thing. But that's not the case. I look around on a typical Shabbos morning, and the kibitzing is non-stop, the topics of the kibitzing, at least what I hear, is usually not oriented towards anything Jewish, unless its political conspiracy about whatever the latest is in the matter of our local Jewish schools (a real mess there) ...and a lack of derech eretz towards those who are there to DAVEN is pervasive. Chicken and egg. Does bad music lead to lack of respect or does lack of respect lead to bad music? It all ties in, somehow.
Heshy Maryles writes:
I am a sometimes-band organizer in LA, and I have a real simple solution for poor-quality guest performers. I ask the client before the gig whom they want to have perform from the family/friends, if anyone. Then I tell them that I want their cooperation to require all guests who want to perform to be cleared by the baal simcha, who needs to come to me to tell me whom to allow.

Then, aside from the pre-designated guests (usually a somewhat talented singer who is a best friend of the chosson, or the
kallah's kid brother who comes up to do an off-key number during the dinner, etc), I tell all would-be performers that the
baal simcha isn't letting anyone up here, so check with him/her.

It works quite well (except that sometimes the chosson's best friend isn't as good as he thinks!).
I also only allow "guest musicians" with the consent of the ba'alei simcha. That approach works quite well assuming the people the clients DO want to have sing aren't painful to listen too. Sometimes, they're just awful.

I've also had several instances where people came over and insisted that the ba'al simcha wanted them to sing. I find those
the hardest to deal with, because its uncomfortable to call someone a liar. I usually handle these by telling them that they've got to have the ba'al simcha come over and let me know. That usually ends there.

I once played a wedding where the kallah's father dragged over two guests from Israel to sing during dinner. I knew something was up when one of them produced his own mic (a cheap radio shack model) from his bekeshe pocket, preferring it to one of ours (not that I'm complaining about that.)

Anyhow, these guys proceeded to sing "the Racheim that never ends and has no instrumental breaks." The caterer was yelling that we needed to start the 2nd dance, all of the guests were cringing, and I tried to end the song several times, but all to no avail. These guys just kept on going and the kallah's father was standing front and center encouraging them to continue. They must have sung the entire tune six or seven times through.

When they finally ended the song, the kallah's father urged them to sing another and they promptly launched into the "the unending Tefilah L'ani." As with "Racheim" it was interminable, but what could we do? It was what the ba'al simcha wanted. I will say that it was hard to keep a straight face when several of the guests came over later to "compliment" us on the guest singers.

Another reader writes:
I was at a wedding last night [Ed. this past Sunday] in Boro Park and here is the rumor I heard from a relatively reliable member of the chosson's family:

The family had contracted with Neginah but then changed their mind. They were willing to lose their deposit but Neginah insisted that the contract is still legally binding. The family nevertheless hired another band (I can confirm that). Supposedly, this was a huge deal in the J-music world because no one had ever stood up to Neginah like that. ______ _______ [Ed.] had even promised to come and do a little free singing as reward for standing up to Neginah.

I left before the second dance so I don't know if ______ _______[Ed.] came.

Does any of this sound credible? Are these distant relatives of mine really going down in J-music history? Or is this just some silly story?
There are some interesting halachik issues here that I've been meaning to write about for a while. Hopefully, I'll get to them soon.

If the family changed their mind on their own, gave plenty of advance notice, and was willing to forfeit their deposit, then I don't think Neginah has a legitimate claim on legal or Halachick grounds. (Presumably, this depends on the terms of their contract.) Even so, the idea of booking a job that had already been promised to another band seems uncomfortable to me.

There have been other cases in the JM industry (I don't know the specifics of this one) where bands have tried to induce clients to back out of contracts with other bands and have offered reduced rates in order to to make it worthwhile for them to lose their deposits. In other words, the bands have approached the clients rather than the client deciding to reconsider and investigate other options. It seems to me, that there are clear issues of "ani hamehapech" /gezel in those cases.